Instagram is now the fastest growing social media platform, overtaking both Facebook and Twitter. For businesses, it has become the most engaged platform with over one million companies worldwide using it to create content, interact with potential customers and tell their unique stories through visual discovery.

With such a positive uptake by businesses, the platform continues to grow with new tools and features being rolled out consistently. With each update, it’s essential to know how this can be used to your advantage to:

  • Build your online presence
  • Stay at the forefront of consumer’s minds
  • Be relevant to your audience

Instagram have recently rolled out a number of updates, so here is what you need to know.


Multiple Image Uploads

You may have scrolled through your feed and seen some users displaying multiple images in a carousel style post. This is a brand new feature to the platform, first introduced in February 2017.

Instagram have been testing this new format and at first rolled it out on Android devices before adding to the app on Apple products.. As you can’t publish albums or groups of images on Instagram like you can on Facebook, this new feature is proving an effective way to tell stories.

The main business benefit of this is that once you have the attention of audience, you have the power to keep it for longer. This is likely to improve retention of your message and over time, brand loyalty.


Live Instagram Stories

Late in 2016 ‘Instagram Live Stories’ launched as a direct competitor to Snapchat by adapting their own version of the disappearing content phenomenon.

Much like the Facebook Live feature, users of the app now have the ability to view and broadcast live videos, which appear to followers on the top of their screens.

Considering the similarities to Snapchat, the team at Instagram have not denied how their existing functionality influenced their own update. It’s a move that’s certainly paid off as Snapchat stories have seen a decline since the roll out of Instagram Live Stories.

So what’s the benefit of Instagram live stories for business? Instagram itself states, ““Instagram Live Stories are a great way to connect with a new audience and boost both engagement and the visibility of your content.”

Similarly to the multiple images feature, it allows more interaction with your audience and another method to engage, meaning a marketing plan can include ideas appropriate for this specific medium within the app.


Instagram Lead Ads

After the success of Facebook’s Lead Ads for marketers, this tool is now also available for Instagram (remember Facebook bought Instagram in 2012).

To be able to run a lead ad on Instagram all you have to do is select the platform as a placement on your campaign. Just be aware of the limitations. At the present time they can only be shown on the mobile app, but As more users access Instagram via mobile app than through desktop, this isn’t a real disadvantage.

Once your lead ad is active, users click through pages to complete a form, which may cause some people to exit the journey. In addition, the  questions you can add are slightly limited, so you have to work within the confines and judge if it’s worth it for the results. Overall,  the concept may be less effective than the Facebook version but you can still get basic contact information from users, which is always important.


The Future of Instagram

The next planned update, that everyone is getting excited about, is shoppable tags on photos. Instagram want users to be able to shop without having to close the app and open up a browser window.

They’ve been testing the feature since November 2016 with retail brands such as Kate Spade in the US, so have been adapting in from real business case studies.

Essentially, it will allow retailers to tag products in their photos and when selected by a user, they will be presented with an in-app details page and a “Shop Now” button that will take them to buy it on the web. Could this new feature change the way mobile users shop yet again? We will just have to wait and see.

If you’d like to make a bigger impact with your social channels, we have a range of social media courses available including an Instagram for Business course. Come along and optimise your business use of the platform and see real results.

Posted in Blogs, Digital Marketing, Social Media.

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